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MRI scans can identify HIV in brain, say researchers

Mutated HIV discovered

In the most recent development regarding HIV AIDS research, a team headed by professor Ravi Gupta from the University College London have found that the HIV can be spotted in brain using MRI scans.

HIV infection has been a conundrum for the whole of mankind that is responsible for millions of deaths each year. Even though the ailment remains as one of the incurable diseases that we are familiar with, yet there have been many advancements in devising proper treatment regime for the patients that can give him/her a shot at longer and healthier life as compared to the norm that existed before such treatments.

To diagnose HIV, ELISA test is used and if and when the test results come out positive for HIV, the patient is treated with AZT in most of the case although the dosage, progression and the course of the disease varies significantly among the patients.

About fifty percent of the patients almost always suffer from some form of cognitive disorder due to the HIV percolating through the blood brain barrier and making it through to the cranial cavity and infecting the brain. Earlier the patients had to undergo a rather painful and invasive procedure of lumbar puncture involving tapping out the spinal fluid from the vertebra to determine if there is HIV in the brain as well.

As per this breakthrough involving the MRI scans of over 146 HIV patients with cognitive disorders, the team is fairly confident in using the technique to identify the presence of HIV in the brains of the other patients.

The exact change in the brain that is indicative of the HIV in brain is called diffuse white matter signal abnormality and it leads to the various cognitive problems that the HIV patients suffer from. It has been linked to getting triggered by inflammation in the brain which is caused by the presence of HIV in brain.

With this knowledge, the doctors can modify the treatment of individual patients so as to make the drugs cross the blood-brain barrier and hence control the HIV infection in brain.

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